TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Insider Trading Thursday night that the Toronto Maple Leafs and prospect Carl Grundstrom have begun preliminary contract talks with the goal of bringing Grundstrom over to North America for the 2017-18 season.

“Carl Grundstrom of Team Sweden had seven points in seven games at the World Juniors. The Leafs selected him 57th overall in the draft last year. Could he become a Leaf sooner rather than later?

Dreger: He could, as early as next season. Preliminary talks [are] underway. That would mean he would come over and play with the Toronto Maple Leafs or, worst case, the Toronto Marlies. Again, they’re just beginning to talk about it, and there is going to be a decision that has to be made by Grundstrom. Maybe he opts to stay in Sweden. But he’s having a heck of a year in Frolunda. Many compare him to, say, a Patric Hornqvist of the Pittsburgh Penguins, or for the throwbacks — the old group like us — maybe Claude Lemieux back in his day when he was ravaging the league with the Colorado Avalanche.”
–  TSN’s Insider Trading, January 26

Grundstrom turned some heads at the 2017 World Junior tournament; he went point per game, played all situations minutes, and showcased a combination of offensive skill, defensive ability and physical play that has Leafs brass high on his potential as a future NHLer. Team Sweden’s head coach, Tomas Monten, told Postmedia’s Michael Traikos that he sees a number of similarities to a former player of his in current Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist:

“He works hard and his competitive level is through the roof. I think the Maple Leafs have a guy who in the future will work hard for them. He likes to score goals and go to the net, but he can score off power and skill. I think they have a pretty good prospect. I coached a player a few years back on the club team in Stockholm, his name is Patric Hornqvist. They have the same edge. Patric was the same as a junior. He competed the hardest every day in practice. His skating wasn’t super, but he worked on it and a lot of scouts told me he wasn’t going to make it into the NHL because he’s not a good skater, but I said he’s going to make it because he wants to make it. I think those two are pretty similar in terms of character.”

“He’s hitting people, he’s taking the body, he’s involved in scrums and you do notice him just from the physical side.”
Mark Hunter on Carl Grundstrom’s World Junior performance

In the SHL, the 19-year-old is currently tied for eighth in overall goal scoring with 12 in 31 games. He’s first in goals among U20 players, seven ahead of the next highest scoring U20 player, and is also tied for the lead in points scoring among U20s with 15.

Drafted out of Sweden in 2016, the Leafs own Grundstrom’s exclusive rights for a period of four years regardless of whether they extend an offer to the player.

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